Mtn Chicks - Emerald Lake
Trailhead: Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance: 3.2 miles (easy)
I went on another Group Hike on Sunday! This was with the organization Mountain Chicks - I've been trying to get in on one of their hikes for several months, but they're so popular I can never get a spot! I was lucky enough to have one open up for me on their snowshoe event in RMNP. I was so excited to spend a day with a bunch of other women hiking in my favorite place. The night before, my ride actually bailed on me so I had to try to find another. Thankfully I had been talking to a girl from Loveland who still had a spot in her car - I had to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to get to her on Sunday morning, but she was able to give me a ride into the park.
We all met up at the trailhead. The organizer, Mikaela, gave out goodie bags and helped everyone get strapped into their snowshoes before doing a brief safety talk and getting us on our way!
Somehow I ended up in front with Chelsea. I didn't really want to be the one setting the pace for everyone, but we quickly had to stop because of an equipment malfunction. One of the girls' snowshoe had broken in half! She tried to fix it (it looked like it just slid back in place), but no such luck. THANKFULLY lots of us were prepared with other traction devices, and she was able to borrow some microspikes and continue onwards!
I'll admit, I was just as nervous going into this hike as I was the last group hike I went on. It's hard to know if you'll get along with people or if there will be awkward silences or if everyone will be way faster than you or way more experienced than you or will understand that sometimes I need to puff on my inhaler before attempting that uphill slog....
This was an amazing group of girls. We all stuck together on the way up, taking breaks and waiting for everyone to catch up. And everyone was stopping to take pictures, so I didn't feel like I was slowing anyone down in that aspect either. And in fact, I think that's the fastest I've ever gotten to Nymph Lake!
Right past Nymph is where the snow started (and if you've done this trail in June, you know that this is where it likes to hang around longest!). It's been a strange winter here in Colorado; we've only gotten like 3 snows since October and it's starting to get disheartening. It was so nice to see snow on the trees like it was here - it was almost as though a weight was lifted off my shoulders - winter does exist.
As soon as we got to Dream Lake we started to get POUNDED by the wind. I was laughing so hard because as soon as one gust ended the next one started - there was no escaping it! I could turn around but then my jacket pockets would fill with snow being blown off the lake or I'd start to fall over because the gusts were so powerful. We tried to stay there as long as possible - that view of Hallett and Flattop are stunning. But eventually the wind won and we moved on.
We started getting closer to Emerald Lake, the wind still pounding against us, and then the trail took a left turn. Instead of following the nice, gradual summer trail or the almost-as-nice almost-as-gradual usual winter trail, we were going straight up. I took a pause here, where Logan and I would have both cursed at the sight of the hill and probably had a snack or something, and watched all the other badass women I was with power upwards. I finally got going, after talking to some older men about the "adventurous" path down they had chosen, and made it to the top to a chorus of, "I thought this was supposed to be easy!" We laughed and joked and inwardly I was so glad to know that that hill was challenging to other people, too. We eventually reached Emerald Lake and stood in awe of it's beauty.
After taking dozens of pictures, and a group boomerang, my fingers started to freeze. I pulled out a set of hot hands (thank god for preparedness...) and clutched them tightly in my gloves while everyone got ready to head back down. We headed down in waves, so we didn't all finish at the same time, but it still felt like a group effort going down. I only fell once (typical), and as we got closer to Nymph Lake the wind started to die off making me considerably warmer.
Overall it was a great day. It was such a nice change of pace going hiking with a group of 13 women who were all badasses in their own right. We were talking in the car on the way home about how difficult it is to make friends as an adult...Mountain Chicks is doing something right by bringing together groups of like-minded women to celebrate the outdoors. I cannot wait for my next hike with them!